Paul Smith - 'Diagrams'

6/10

Despite being better known as the frontman of indie stalwarts Maximo Park, Paul Smith has managed to maintain a solid and successful solo career almost completely parallel to his work in the Geordie outfit. First emerging with his critically-acclaimed debut album 'Margins' back in 2010, the singer has always used his solo ventures to embark on different ideas and sound that may not suit his regular band as much. Now returning with his fourth full-length 'Diagrams', he has looked to become more diverse than ever, delivering a whole range of options to try and best suit his impassioned vocal style.

As you would expect from a record with so many different avenues to explore, the cohesive nature of the record is usually very much compromised. As much as he likes to discover new possibilities in his sound, especially with opener 'The Public Eye', there are singles like 'Silver Rabbit' that always look to pull him back to his more familiar environment in Maximo Park, making for a rather disjointed collection as it plays. It seems that this release is more of a selection of ideas rather than a full formed full-length, giving it a rather uneasy pace throughout and making it hard to enjoy from start to finish.

Yet despite its trouble with a succinct direction, 'Diagrams' is still filled with plenty of intriguing concepts throughout. The frontman clearly has an ambition to diversify his style, but having all these different avenues of exploration to take in does alienate the listener at times and makes for an album that can only be enjoyed in smaller doses.

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